|Arlen Summers, of Silva, and his friend, Mike Mathis (left), pose with Arlen's deer he harvested at the mobility impaired managed hunt at Wappapello this weekend. (MDC photo)|
Experiencing the outdoors shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be available to everyone.
WAPPAPELLO, Mo. – Deer season is an exciting time for Missouri hunters. But for those who are mobility impaired, it can be a frustrating time when it’s difficult – or sometimes impossible- to participate in the hunt. This is why the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Wild Turkey Federation work together to host the annual mobility impaired managed deer hunt at Wappapello.
Of this year’s 19 participants, 15 hunters successfully harvested a deer this past weekend. In order to be selected for the hunt, hunters must be mobility impaired, requiring the aid of braces, crutches or a wheel chair to be mobile.
“We’re pleased that so many of our hunters were able to experience the harvest,” said Meagan Duffee-Yates, MDCwildlife biologist assistant.
Arlen Summers, of Silva, was one of the hunters. After trying two blind locations and seeing a doe on opening morning, and an 8-point buck that wasn’t in place for a good shot, he was able to harvest a button buck on the last day.
Kelly Barfoot, of Campbell, was another participant. He harvested his button buck Saturday evening. He was sitting in a blind that had a lot of deer sign, according to Yates. Barfoot’s position in his blind allowed him to watch a doe move up the hillside in front of him, but it never presented a shot that he was comfortable with. He was also able to watch a bobcat move past his blind. Finally, in the early evening, he was successful in harvesting a button buck when it walked up from behind his blind.
These stories may sound like typical deer season stories, but these experiences are especially treasured.
“Without this managed hunt, these hunters wouldn’t be able to have this experience that many of us take for granted,” Yates said, adding that she and others who work at the event aim to help the hunters have a similar experience to that of mobile hunters.
“It’s very difficult for a mobility-impaired hunter to get into the woods during the regular firearms deer season, so we work to give them an opportunity away from that,” she said. “Here they’re able to get out into the woods, be in a blind and have a chance to hunt like everyone else.”
But Yates said the hunters aren’t the only ones who benefit from the annual managed hunt.
“To see a smile on their face is our end goal,” she said. “When they harvest a deer it’s even better and knowing we’ve focused our attention on getting them out into the woods and allowing them the experience to hunt just like any other hunter is why we’re here.”
Yates said this event falls right in line with the MDC’s mission to help people discover nature.
“That goes for everyone,” she said. “Even someone with a disability should be able to get outside, enjoy nature and have the opportunity to hunt. Experiencing the outdoors shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be available to everyone.”
For more information on deer hunting in Missouri, go online to mdc.mo.gov.